Saturday, 27 May 2017

Wargame Rules – Men and Supermen

French Old Guard corps attack Prussian corps

One of the main objectives of my comprehensive wargame system was to be able to use all of my model soldiers, in rotation, on the wargames table.  More than that, I wanted to be able to campaign with them.   Each phase of the campaign would last about ten days and would provide three to five battles to wargame.   Both armies in a campaign phase would have to be able to hold heir own against the enemy and to some extent recover from battle casualties.

So it was important that I reduce the effect of either “supermen” or “rubbish” troops.   In the former I would cite the French Old Guard or the British riflemen.  In the latter Spanish of all types and guerrilla in particular spring to mind.

I wanted all of my figures to take part regularly on the wargames table, no longer would Imperial Garde or Spanish guerrilla be allowed to gather dust on the wargame shelves year after year.

I choose the 1813 campaign because the French had suffered heavy losses in Russia the previous year, and had built up their new army with masses of conscripts.  Also the other nations had learned painful lessons over the previous ten years and were in most cases now equal to the French.

But how would my new rules reflect that?

Each brigade would have strong points and weak points.   The strength of a British rifle brigade would be its skirmish ability, their weakness would be volley fire.   A Spanish brigade would be poor at skirmish and have low morale, but would be average volley fire.   In this way a player could try to avoid situations where they were particularly weak, and try to exploit their strengths.

The First French Army, which included the Imperial Guard, would have one very strong corps (the guard), but three relatively weak corps.   Their opponents (the Prussian army) would have four more balanced corps.   Blucher would try to avoid the First French corps, and concentrate his efforts against the three relatively weak corps.

Each brigade would have two ways of adding or subtracting from their wargame effectiveness.   There would be three types of troops, namely A (elite), B (average) or C (poor).   Infantry would also have the same classification for firing and skirmish.

The troop types would decide how well they would react to morale checks. 

The combat grading would determine how well they skirmished, volley fired or fought hand to hand.

I was determined that there would be neither “supermen” nor “rubbish” brigades.

A French Old Guard brigade would be A class, but they would be B firing and C skirmish.   

A British rifleman would be B class, but would be A skirmish and B firing. 

A Spanish infantryman would be C class, B firing and C skirmish.

A Spanish guerrilla would be C class, C firing and C skirmish.

However all of this fine tuning would be levelled out by the use of dice, to represent luck.  

A brigade to skirmish would roll a D6 and require 5 or 6 for a hit.   If they were A skirmish they would add 1 to the result.  If they were C they would deduct 1.   So it was POSSIBLE for Spanish infantry to win a skirmish against French old guard, but it would be very UNLIKELY.

Battle casualties would be replaced at the rate of 10% each day, providing that the corps did not move and was within supply  distance.   However not ALL casualties would be replaced.  A brigade which had suffered casualties would keep 10% for the remainder of he campaign.  This had the effect of reducing their morale and combat by minus 1 on the dice throw.   So even the French guard would be reduced from A class to B class after their first battle casualties.

The full detailed order of battle for every corps and brigade in the campaign, showing class and combat grading, can be found on the campaign diary blog here

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wargame Rules - Length of Game

An encounter battle is where both corps are marching towards each other, both are off table and will arrive at the start of move one.   13th French corps is on left and 4th Prussian corps in on the right.   “No mans land” is the centre square.

I received a comment on last week’s blog asking how I can ensure that a wargame is completed in 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical/table top level.   This is a really good question, and I should have given more time to explaining it in the previous blog.   It is a little too complicated to answer in a few lines, so I promised to answer it in detail this week.

First I should remind you that there are 12 hourly moves in the campaign, and there are 12 moves in the wargame.  So each move on the table is one hour in the campaign.

In those 12 hours a corps can move three map squares, providing that they are on a road.  

In the campaign enemies are not allowed to enter the adjacent square, which I call “no mans land”.   If they attempt to do so a battle is declared, and the wargame table set up to represent the nine squares on the map, with the “no mans land” square in the centre of the table.  The battle is set up with corps located as they were at the end of the previous day.
A standard battle is where both sides are deployed and ready to attack, with just the “no mans land” centre square between them.   4th French corps artillery is limbered and the corps ready to advance into artillery range.   1st Prussian corps is in defence, have unlimbered their artillery ready to fire and positioned some of their troops behind the town.

There are three types of battle which can be fought as a wargame.   An encounter battle is when both armies are marching towards each other.   A standard battle is when both are deployed the day before with just the “no mans land” square between them.   A defensive battle is when one side is deployed in defence and the other will advance to attack them.   All three are shown in the photographs.

There are normally three distinct stages to all of our campaign battles fought as a wargame, each are four moves long.   The first is the approach and deployment phase.   The attacker enters at his end of the table and it takes four moves to deploy ready to attack

The second stage is the artillery combat.   The centre square, or “no mans land”, is slightly more than long artillery range.   So one or both, corps have to advance within artillery range and deploy.  This gives an advantage to the defender.  The defending artillery then has four attempts to hit the attackers.  The attackers normally have three moves.

The third stage is the close combat battle.   The attacker now advances to musket range, and a skirmish and volley fire takes place.   As he does so the defender have two more moves to hit him with artillery fire, the second probably at short range.   The battle is usually decided with combined artillery, skirmish and volley fire.
A defensive battle is where one side is deployed and have hold orders, the other is advancing with orders to engage or attack.   4th Spanish corps are deployed  in the centre square to hold the road approaching the town.   “No mans land” is the centre left hand square.   16th French corps will enter that square from the left at the start of move one.

In a minority of battles this can prove ineffective, or we may be reaching nightfall (move 12).   Either commander can at any time decide to charge and engage in hand to hand combat, however he has to issue specific orders to do so.  In a multi corps battle only the CinC (not the corps commander) can do so.   This type of combat always results in casualties to both corps, often heavy casualties.   It is heavily influenced by the dice throw, so it is a risky thing to order.

Normally as night nears, say move 11 or 12, both sides have brittle morale due to battle casualties.   Very often one good, or bad, dice throw will cause one brigade to rout and that will often result in adjacent brigades joining them.  With the result that there is a clear winner and a clear loser.

We have fought 252 campaign battles as wargames in the past ten years, and only in four or five have we had to fight a second day to decide the outcome.